3 Top Tips for Email Content and Design

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Learn how to convey your message and get clicks.

Email marketing provides a vital point of engagement between your business and your audience. With a thoughtful strategy and segments based on data, you can create emails that resonate with the unique array of contacts in your audience.

More important than being creative and interesting, all content must be relevant and valuable for the person reading it, at the moment they’re reading it. This is an age of choice for consumers, and people only engage with content if they have a specific reason to do so. But well-branded, professional presentation is still vital to the success of your email marketing. When you know who is in your audience, and you have a strategy in place, you can craft emails that are both beautiful and impactful.

1. Create an email template that tells people what they need to know.

To maintain a consistent brand in your audience’s inboxes, it’s important to have an email template that you use for your campaigns. The template should cover all of the email components that your audience will see and help them quickly glean the information they need:

  • Who is the email from? In all inboxes, a name will display stating who sent the email, whether it’s a person’s name or a business. This is important, because it’s the first thing your recipients see, alongside the subject line. Your recipients need to trust your business to open the email, so make sure to build a template that clearly includes your business name, even if it’s also coming from a specific person who works there.
  • What is the email about? Your subject line is vital. Next to the sender, it’s the first thing that a contact sees, and it will play a huge role in whether or not they open the email and read the content. Make it enticing and clear—they should be short, snappy, and as personalized as possible. It’s worth conducting A/B tests to discover the kinds of subject lines which work with different segments.
  • Why should they open it? A preheader follows the subject line and is a place to make opening the email even more compelling. Not all email formats and providers allow recipients to see the preheader, but it’s worth including for the many that do. Some email platforms will pull automatically from the content in the email if a preheader isn’t specified, but it’s best to write something that gives readers another reason to click and leads neatly into the introduction.
  • What does the brand look like? At the top of your email, include your logo and links to your website (but make sure not to overpower your template with a logo that’s too big). Link to a web version of your email should here too, ensuring all recipients can access and read your email. You can also feature a compelling photo at the top of the email. All of these elements should give readers a quick impression about your brand.
  • Why should they read it? It’s essential that you write a captivating headline, which entices a contact who has opened the email to read it. This is the main title which introduces the main email body content, and it should be attention-grabbing, relevant, and clearly indicate what the customer can expect as they read.
  • What is the main takeaway? Place the primary message in the body of the email. This is the most substantial section, and it should include the information that you want a reader to know. The length of the content, how it’s presented, the number of paragraphs, subheadings, and more will vary based on the business, message, and audience—pay close attention to what resonates for yours.
  • What should readers do next? An email footer, or signature block, is where the content signs off. It’s often a good idea to include a call to action (CTA) directing them to something specific on your website, or simply to your homepage. Legally, the option to unsubscribe should be clearly and prominently included. You may also want to include some business details like your contact information, address, hours, and a link to your privacy statement.

2. Keep your message clear and prominent.

Any marketing email is designed to deliver key messages or to promote specific behaviors from your audience. For example, an abandoned cart email nudges customers to return to your site and purchase what they left in their basket. So, in this case, it’s wise to write and design an email that clearly directs your contact back to their shopping cart. In general, you should signal that content is important with graphics, animations, formatting, and clear copy.

It’s also worth analyzing the ways that your audience interacts with email content. Using your email reports, assess which areas of an email draw the most attention and interaction. Businesses can use this information to place the most important aspects of their content in these areas.

3. Design an email that’s visually appealing and interactive.

Images are an excellent way to make content more engaging, attractive, and professional. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Use images to strengthen your message, rather than distract. Images should add to or enhance the message of your email. Be sure that this is what they do, rather than pulling a reader’s attention away from what they need to know.
  • Optimize images for a consistently pleasant user experience. Images don’t always load or display as well as they could across all platforms and devices. Make sure that images are optimized for the devices and email clients that are likely to open them. Also bear in mind that increasingly, emails are read by smart speakers, rather than viewed on screens. If an email is too reliant on imagery, a lot of the impact will be lost in a voiced format.

Many of the same pros and cons of images also apply to videos. Videos are brilliant for drawing the eye and getting a message across quickly and effectively. However, they can also make emails clunky to load, and they may not display properly on certain devices or inboxes. But video content is likely to become more valuable as smart speaker technology improves. Although images can’t be read well by Alexa or Siri, videos have much more potential for engaging your audience through both visual and voiced formats.

Interactive content and formats get your contacts where they need to be, quickly. For example, an email that lets subscribers interact directly with a website without traveling to an external link is more likely to get conversions than one that doesn’t. Reducing the number of steps a customer has to take between opening an email and completing the email’s goal is always a good idea.

Plus, interactivity is another way to personalize the email experience, making it relevant to each contact. It makes your audience feel personally involved, and that adds value to the content.

Once the perfect content has been created for each segment, it’s time to send it out. After all, content is of absolutely no use if nobody sees it!